Thursday 23 November, 2017

Gerry who? Harry Ragoonanan distances self from bid rigging claims

Suspended PNM member Harry Ragoonanan.

Suspended PNM member Harry Ragoonanan.

Longstanding PNM member Harry Ragoonanan has spoken out about his recent suspension from the party, following a police probe into the alleged manipulation concerning the award of a PTSC contract.

During the PNM’s General Council Meeting at Balisier House on Saturday, party chairman Franklin Khan announced the disciplinary move. He said “no one is above the law, not even party members”.

On Monday, the Trinidad Express published the alleged transcript of the conversation between a man identified as “Harry” and another man identified as “Gerry”.

According to the report, “Harry” wanted to align himself as an agent with a Chinese company called Higer, the leading bus manufacturer in that country which makes 300 different buses and coach models. "Harry" was allegedly speaking with a man with a Chinese accent referred to as “Gerry”, when he explained that whichever company he worked with would be sure to get the contract for the purchase of 100 buses.  According to the report, “Harry” said he was close friends with the then PTSC Chairman, and told the Chinese businessman he would disclose exactly what to tender to ensure that Higer wins the bid.

Speaking with Loop TT today, in response to the claims, Ragoonanan said he had no idea about the conversation nor did he know anyone by the name of Gerry.

“Well I can’t recall the discussion they are speaking about and I took part in no tender for buses in 2016. I don’t know who they are speaking about.”

Ragoonanan said he believed he was targeted because rumours had been circulating that he unearthed the corruption at the Port as it relates to the ongoing sea bridge fiasco with the Bridgeman’s Services Group.

He said he remains a devoted PNM supporter despite the unfair treatment meted out to him.

“I am a member of the PNM and I support the duly elected leader at all times. I don’t see any cause for my suspension in the party. There is no section of the constitution in which I am qualified to be suspended.  I have been accused of exposing the corruption in the fast ferry situation, the tendering procedure. I mean, I have seen in the past where Minister Franklin Khan and Minister Eric Williams were charged with corruption before the court and they weren’t suspended. They were removed as Ministers but they remained members of the party so I don’t understand this inequality of treatment.”